Home News “Bizarre” VAR call denies Liverpool but media hammer “sloppy & lethargic” Reds

“Bizarre” VAR call denies Liverpool but media hammer “sloppy & lethargic” Reds


There was yet more bewilderment at VAR from the media after Liverpool’s 3-2 loss to Toulouse, but the Reds’ performance was also, rightly, criticised.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side simply were never at the races on Thursday evening, as they suffered their first Europa League defeat of the season.

Having gone in 1-0 down at the break, things weren’t much better in the second half, but Jarell Quansah‘s last-gasp goal was bizarrely ruled out for handball by Alexis Mac Allister in the build-up.

Here’s best of the media reaction to Liverpool’s defeat.


There was only one place to start: VAR…

TOULOUSE, FRANCE - Thursday, November 9, 2023: Referee Georgi Kabakov disallows Liverpool's equalising third goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E match-day 4 game between Toulouse FC and Liverpool FC at the Stadium de Toulouse. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Writing for This Is Anfield, David Lynch was at a loss to how the goal was ruled out:

“In their defeat to Copenhagen on Wednesday, Manchester United offered up a couple of clear examples of the vast difference between Premier League and UEFA rules when it comes to handball.

“But, even accounting for that contrast, it is hard to believe that the referee was right to chalk off Jarell Quansah‘s equaliser here.

“Not only does the ball ricochet up off Mac Allister’s chest before striking his arm, but the ‘offence’ surely comes far so ahead of the ball hitting the back of the net as to be deemed an irrelevance.

“It will be interesting to see if UEFA elect to back that call in the coming days, or if they are willing to admit the goal should not have been disallowed.

“If it is the former, then we truly are in a bizarre place when it comes to the handball law in European competition.”

The Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe couldn’t help but feel Liverpool have been unlucky this season:

“It’s been a season of firsts for Liverpool.

“The first side to be awarded a goal by the video assistant referee and not have it registered on the scoresheet, and now the first to have a goal ruled out for a handball so distant in the past it could have been in a different time zone.

“Not that anyone could begrudge Toulouse the benefits of the latest Varce, Jarell Quansah denied a 97th minute equaliser for a check that required the liberal use of the rewind button.”


Liverpool were so poor on the night, though…

TOULOUSE, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 9, 2023: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas walks off at half-time with his side losing 1-0 during the UEFA Europa League Group E match-day 4 game between Toulouse FC and Liverpool FC at the Stadium de Toulouse. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Andy Jones of The Athletic was less than enamoured with the Reds’ display:

“VAR rows overshadowing games is obligatory, it seems, and this one was no exception.

“With Toulouse camped on the edge of their box deep in stoppage time, Mac Allister looked to recycle possession from a clearance.

“As he attempted to control the ball, it bounced up off his chest and ricocheted onto his arm, but play continued. About 15 seconds later, the ball was scrambled home by Quansah before referee Georgi Kabakov brought the play back for a free kick following a VAR check.

“UEFA rules state that “no handball offence should be called if the ball is previously deflected from a player’s own body — in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal”.

“That said, Liverpool did not deserve a point here.”

Paul Gorst of the Liverpool Echo was another who was hugely unimpressed, even questioning Liverpool’s attitude:

“This was as poor as Jurgen Klopp‘s side have been since the dark days of January and early February when they were ripped apart on their travels by the likes of Brentford, Brighton and Wolves.

“But what will really leave the manager kicking the teacups will be the manner of the collapse against the team who were so soundly dismissed just two weeks ago on Merseyside.


“So, do Liverpool have an attitude problem against sides of inferior quality? Or is it in fact a more worrying trend of a team who cower on their travels?

“After all, the Reds have now won just four of their nine away from home in all competitions this term.”

TOULOUSE, ENGLAND - Thursday, November 9, 2023: Liverpool's Kostas Tsimikas (C) looks dejected as his mistake leads to Toulouse scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Europa League Group E match-day 4 game between Toulouse FC and Liverpool FC at the Stadium de Toulouse. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On X, Lynch was less fussed about the result, hoping that it won’t be looked at as an important result come the end of the season:

“Anyway, there are some defeats you just have to get over quickly and that is one of them.

“Liverpool made nine changes and looked like it up against disciplined opposition in a raucous atmosphere. Reminded me a lot of that trip to Red Star en route to winning the CL in 2019.”

Also on X, James Pearce was a little more scathing, though:

“Liverpool didn’t deserve anything out of that game. Really poor against the 14th placed team in France. So many errors, so little intensity.

“But that finale was bizarre. Referee all over the place.”

While the result was no disaster, Lewis Steele of the Daily Mail called Liverpool “sloppy” and “lethargic”:

“Of course, this was only a minor bump in the road. Liverpool are still well on course to cruise through this group and they are bookies’ favourites to go all the way before third-placed Champions League sides drop into the competition.

“But they were sloppy, lethargic and lacked attacking threat until the dying embers of the match.

“The Reds made a habit of slow starts and shoddy first-half performances in the early weeks of the season and this was another example that there are still cracks to iron out.”


Certain individuals flopped on the night, too…

Alexis Mac Allister failed his audition as a No. 8, according to Lynch:

“Given the widespread clamour for Mac Allister to be dragged out of the No.6 into attacking midfield, you might have expected him to make a strong case here.

“But, despite being tried there against theoretically weaker opposition in the Europa League tonight, the Argentine failed to demand a more advanced position with his performance.

“As a result of that first-half stint further up the pitch, his touches were far down on the usual lofty numbers, and perhaps showed in Liverpool’s struggles with ball progression.

“He also managed just one key pass across the 90 minutes, one interception and zero tackles – figures that are neither impressive on the attacking or defensive side of things.”

Finally, the Mirror‘s Kieran King though Wataru Endo really struggled:

“It has proved to be a difficult start to life at Liverpool for Waturo Endo and Thursday’s trip to Toulouse wasn’t any different.

“The Japan international played as the deepest in a three-man midfield but failed to have an impact throughout his time on the pitch.

“Endo was arguably fortunate to have stayed on the pitch when he lunged in on Casseres. The 30-year-old, who had already been booked, escaped a second yellow card and and a sending off which would have left Liverpool even further in trouble.

“Klopp took control of the situation and decided to take him off at half-time, with Trent Alexander-Arnold coming on in his absence.”